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Child Custody

Child Custody

Will I get to spend time with my children? How can I make sure my rights as a parent are protected?

Without a doubt, your children are your first priority when going through a divorce. Fortunately, Colorado law is focused on this as well. It operates under the presumption that a child fares better when both parents are involved in his or her upbringing. There are exceptions to this, if a negligent parent could do harm to a child. Overall, the goal is to create a stable upbringing for the child post-divorce.

As Summit County child custody lawyers, we, at Carlson & Carlson Attorneys-at-Law, P.C., aim to provide our clients with the advocacy and legal knowledge they need to protect their rights as well as the level-headedness required to make fair, favorable decisions for all parties involved. Our experience in a wide range of legal disciplines has given us a teamwork mentality that anticipates issues and addresses them before they arise.

Schedule a initial consultation by reaching us online or by telephone at 970-368-5829.

A Focus On Family From Experienced Breckenridge Parenting Time Lawyers

Colorado has technically changed the legal term for typical child custody rights to "parental responsibilities and parental duties." "Visitation" has also been replaced with the term "parenting time" in an effort to balance out child care responsibilities between parents. Even if a child has a primary residence with one parent, his or her parents may share parenting responsibilities equally in joint custody arrangements.

Determining primary residence for a child and adequate parenting time agreements can be contentious in some cases. How and when a child moves between households must be clearly detailed, even if parents are working together to find a solution. Life continues to change long after a divorce is final, which is why it is crucial you work with an attorney who can anticipate what might happen in the future so that it may be considered today.

A vast majority of marriages in the United States produce children. It is our philosophy that the well being of your children is the most important issue in your divorce case. The legal standard applied to decisions about children is the “best interest of the child” standard. This standard is defined by statute. C.R.S. 14-10-124 .

The basic assumption is that absent some physical or mental problem both parents are presumed to have an equal ability to raise their children. The statute refers to this as “parenting” and the time your children spend with you “parenting time.” Every case with children is required to have a written “Parenting Plan” filed with the Court at the time of the conclusion of the case. 

Colorado is one of three states to eliminate the term custody from its divorce laws. The psychologists and social workers convinced the Colorado Legislature that the old system treated children as property and contributed to fights over custody. They convinced the legislature that adopting a system created in the State of Washington consisting of “parental responsibilities” and “parental rights” set out in a parenting plan was a better approach.

The Court will look at the “best interest of the child” standard to fashion a parenting time. The statute requires the Court look at certain “factors,” review the facts of your case in light of the standards established by these factors, and make an overall conclusion on the totality of the circumstances of that evaluation. The factors are:

  1. The wishes of the child’s parents as to parenting time;
  2. The wishes of the child if he or she is sufficiently mature to express reasoned and independent preferences as to the parenting time schedule;
  3. The interaction and relationship of the child with his or her parents, his or her siblings, and any other person who may significantly affect the child’s best interests;
  4. The child’s adjustment to his or her home, school and community;
  5. The mental and physical health of all individuals involved, except that a disability alone shall not be a basis to deny or restrict parenting time.
  6. The ability of the parties to encourage the sharing of love, affection, and contact between the child and the other party; except that if the court determines that a party is acting to protect the child from witnessing domestic violence or from being a victim of child abuse or neglect or domestic violence, the party’s protective actions shall not be considered with respect to this factor. 
  7. Whether the past pattern of involvement of the parties with the child reflects a system of values, time commitment and mutual support;
  8. The physical proximity of the parties to each other as this relates to the practical considerations of parenting time;
  9. Repealed
  10. The ability of each party to place the needs of the child ahead of his or her own needs.

Custody Disputes

Courts strongly encourage parties to reach reasonable agreements as to parenting time. Unfortunately, this is not always possible, and Courts are asked by the parties to make decisions based upon the above criteria. The Court will often enlist specialists to perform independent investigation. These include Child Family Investigators (CFI)s or Parental Responsibility Evaluators (PRE)s or order full Child Custody Evaluations by a Psychiatrist/Psychologist or Social Worker. The Court requires the parties to supply funds to pay for these experts. CFI’s and PRE’s charge professional hourly rates equivalent to those of lawyers and accountants. Because this can be costly, the Colorado Supreme Court has imposed caps on the fees which a CFI may charge. There is no cap on PREs and other professionals. In the case of Parenting Time disputes, the Court may appoint a Parenting Time Coordinator or Parenting Time Decision Maker.

Contact Us | Consultation | Summit County & Breckenridge 970-368-5829 | Eagle County & Vail Valley 970-845-7090

Frisco Office Address

975 North Ten Mile Drive, Suite E-15
P.O. Box 1829
Frisco, Colorado 80443
Phone: 970-668-1678

Fax: 970-668-5121
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Vail Office Address

56 Edwards Village Blvd.,
Unit 121, Suite 1
Edwards, Colorado 81632
Phone: 970-845-7090